2016-17 marks my 4th year of teaching Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, AP Lang for short. I’ve been able to accumulate and streamline materials that I find to be the most effective for introducing, applying, and mastering the skills … Continue reading
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how quickly time is passing! It seems like just a few days ago I was heading out of my classroom to begin my maternity leave, and now I am pulling materials together for the first weeks of the school year.
I definitely want to appreciate everything that is in store for our little family, and August is going to keep us on our toes.
What’s in store for August
Baby Boy’s 4-month check up
Back to school for my husband and myself AKA
My return to teaching since March 3rd
Birthdays upon birthdays! 14 big ones in our family (Who knew November was so sexy???)
The return of football, preseason
Family pictures with my parents
Bad Moms movie night with my girlfriends
A family visit with an aunt and uncle we haven’t seen in a few years
A massage appointment for this mama thanks to my godmother
July was fabulous, but I’m always eager to start a new month because it inspires me to try, try again at achieving goals.
Family Goals: Spend more time with each other than in front of a screen.
I know that his is qualitative, not a quantitative goal unless I literally keep track of minute-to-minute time spent. I do know that I will be gone from the house more than I ever have before since Cliff was born so it will be important to make each moment, each hug, each snuggle count. Nobody wishes that they would have watched one more episode of TV or checked Facebook one more time when they calculate their valuable moments. I may have less time, but I will be better quality time spent with my family in this upcoming month.
Health Goals: Keep everything in check and hit the gym daily.
I have reached my body composition goal by being able to fit into my khaki capri pants for work. It’s a dull goal, but now I just want to maintain that achievement. I can accomplish this by sticking to my 80/20 diet (80% healthy, 20% cheat food) and getting to the gym. I am grateful that I enjoy working out, mostly afterward, and it’s not a mental mountain to climb.
Professional Goals: Take in every day, remain present, and then become reflective.
Ask anyone who has been working full time for some time if they would like an extended period of time off, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would turn you down. I will not insult stay-at-home parents and call my maternity leave/summer break a vacation because trust me, I worked! But what I will say is that this time away from the classroom reminded me why I love my profession, why I believe it’s my calling, and refocused me on my objectives: support student learning through innovative and whole-child instruction. I want to work with students, their parents and my colleagues to support their educational advances. Money, power, and titles were not why I chose to become a teacher, and I have forgotten that in the past few years, allowing what I thought I was “owed” to taint my opinion of what I do and what I contribute. I was able to conduct a two-week SAT English study camp this summer, and it was just enough to remind that I love my job.
This school year, my focus has been on putting the class more into the hands of the students. This has been partially accomplished by rejuvenating the idea of classroom blogging, but on an in-class basis, it will take much more than that. Our first anchor text of the year is Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”
There are 29 pilgrims and a host, so being able to learn and understand all those characters from the prologue can be quite a daunting task. In previous years, my initial reaction would be, read the prologue, have students take notes, and most likely have a PowerPoint presentation accompany the lesson. SNOOZEFEST! With my new goal of transitioning from my older, staler lesson formats, I approached this seemingly up-hill battle by switching from teacher-led to student-led instruction. Last year, I read a wonderful lesson plan online about utilizing the concept of speed dating with “The Canterbury Tales.”
Pre-planning for Speed Dating:
- Assign each student one of the pilgrims from the prologue
- Read the Prologue to “The Canterbury” tales and have students take notes on their pilgrim. I have also encouraged them to do their own research online. A blog entry was assigned for students to describe their pilgrim in terms of profession, appearance, personality, religious devotion, and how closely they maintain the objectives of their profession.
- Get-To-Know-Me Assignment – Like in “olden days” when people went to video match-making services, these pilgrims needed to put together an introductory “video” of themselves introducing who they are, their goals in life, their objectives, their personality traits, hobbies, etc. These were presented in class.
- I setup the room so that there were desks in pairs, lined up in rows. Students entered the room and randomly sat down. Next year, I will probably pre-assign their seating locations to avoid talkative friends from sitting next to each other.
- The warm-up question required students to write 7-10 “First Date” questions. These could be utilized during the speed dating.
- A chart was placed on the board that explained the people on the left would remain seated while those on the right would rotate on each 2-minute bell.
- I gave students a chart to fill out that made them analyze their dates based upon the following criteria:
- First impressions
- Level of compatibility
- Level of reliablity
- Chances of a second date
- Overall impression
- After the speed dating, students analyzed which pilgrim would be the most compatible with their pilgrim and which was the least. They would need to analyze this based upon the information that they know about their dates. Additionally, students will add textual evidence from the prologue to support their answers. This will go on their WordPress blog.